Frontier Development’s follow-up game to its award winning ThrillVille series, was Microsoft Zoo. A game that aimed to take the venerable Zoo Tycoon franchise in an exciting new direction.
Part zoo creation and part animal interaction, this 3rd person adventure was all charm and lay the groundwork for what would eventually become Kinectimals. Zoo was also the first game in Frontier to use the then relatively new Scaleform SDK for its GUI development.
Zoo was aimed as a family product and the art style of the UI was designed to target the game’s key demographics of families and children “tweens”. With the GUI artist coming from a marketing background and having worked with the similarly targeted brands of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, the goal was to design a GUI that was fun and inviting to use for kids and adults alike.
For the look of the GUI, inspiration was taken from junior arts, paper-craft and imaginary journals that could be kept by characters from adventures such as Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn and Tarzan. Using mainly earthy hues, saturated colours and combined with hand drawn illustrations and woodcut style prints, Frontier aimed to create a rich and colourful interface that matched the vibrancy and charm of the Zoo game world.
With Kinect on the horizon, this project was followed by Animals, which was then to become Kinectimals.